David Jeremiah - God Is Love
Somebody once told me that it was a truth so simple, it didn't need to be written about. And I said, "No, it's a truth so profound, I don't feel worthy to write about it". You know, a lot of people are really confused about God's love. He doesn't love the way we do. We love others because of what they do for us. He loves us because it's his nature to love. And when you know the love of God, it's the most amazing thing.
I was looking for a way to help people simply understand God's love. And the love of God is like a universe you've never been to before. And when you try to understand it from God's perspective, you know, we're not equipped to do that. And what I've tried to do in "God Loves You: He Always Has And He Always Will," is to echo the heart of God to the people of the world. The interesting thing about knowing God is to realize that God has always loved us, and it's just the most wonderful thing when we discover that because then we can start loving Him back. The Bible actually says God is love. When you know that, you know, when you know somebody loves you, when you know God loves you, make a difference.
Some years ago, a missionary woman by the name of Trula Cronk wrote a book called "Over Mountain or Plain or Sea". And in this book, she told a story of a little girl who visited her home one evening, and who stayed a little bit too long. Darkness had fallen, and she was afraid to walk home. And Trula explained to the little girl that she should not be afraid. She said, "Dolan, God loves you, honey, and he will take care of you as you walk to your house". And the little girl replied very solemnly, "No, Mama Sahib, God does not love little girls". Trula said she was never able to forget that simple statement, and it made her want to tell all little girls everywhere that God is love, and does indeed love them.
It may not seem strange to us that anyone would doubt that, but in all of the non-Christian religions, if God is portrayed as personal at all, he is not a giving, loving God, but rather he is a God of appeasement, one whose demands must be satisfied in order to receive his attention or his favor. Christianity alone offers a very different picture. The Bible says on two separate occasions in 1 John chapter 4, verse 8 and in verse 16, "God is love. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him".
What does John mean when he says that God is love? First of all, we must understand what he does not mean. He is not simply saying that God loves. That is true, but that's not what John is saying. No, John is telling us that love is the very essence of God's moral nature. He is telling us that God himself is love, and that love is not just one of his attributes, but that love is who he is. God defines what true love is, and he is the source of all true love. Like Trula Cronk, I have a burden to tell you that God is indeed love, and that he does love you. But what exactly does that mean? You know, there's just as much confusion about love as there is about the nature of God.
Recently, a group of children were asked, "What does love mean"? Rebecca, 8 years old, said, "When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore, so my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love," she said. I read that to my wife and said, "Don't even think about it". Billy, 4 years old, said, "When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth". Bobby is seven, he said, "Love is what's in the room at Christmas if you stop opening your presents and listen". Nicky, who's six, said, "If you want to learn to love better, you should start with somebody you hate". Tommy, who was six, said, "Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well". And Cindy said, "During my piano recital, I was onstage, and I was so scared. And I looked at all the people watching me, and I saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that, and I wasn't scared anymore, and that's love".
Now, there's a little truth in all of those statements. They're kind of interesting, a bit humorous, but it is important that you begin to understand what love is if you're going to understand what it means that God is love. And God's love is so different than what we view love to be in our culture today. When we open the pages of the Bible and begin to read about the love of God, we're looking at a multifaceted diamond. You see love in a way that you never dreamed it could even be described. In fact, this is such a vast subject, this is such a wide endeavor. How could any human being ever write anything meaningful about the love of God? And then I remembered, as I was growing up, a song that George Beverly Shea used to sing in all of the Billy Graham crusades, and the words to that song go like this, "Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade, to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky".
The love of God is a vast subject, far beyond any human ability to comprehend it. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to learn all about it that we can. So, for these next few moments, I want to tell you some things I've learned about the love of God, some of the things you may know already, but some may come as a surprise to you. First of all, the Bible teaches us that God's love is uncaused. It's uncaused. In our human relationships, we love another person because we see something in that person that attracts our love. But God's love for us is uncaused, it's unprompted, it's uninfluenced, it's free, it's spontaneous. There is nothing we can do to cause God to love us, and there is nothing we can do to prevent him from loving us. God loves us because he has chosen to love us, and he loves us because that's all he can do. God is love.
Maybe you're among those who grew up thinking that you had to do so many good things for God to love you, and if you didn't, he wouldn't. Maybe you grew up in a family where you were on that kind of a performance basis. Maybe you heard your mother say when you were growing up, "Honey, if you don't do this, Mommy won't love you anymore". But you need to put all that behind you if you want to know the love of God because love from God is uncaused love. It comes from him. It has nothing to do with you. Not only is his love uncaused, but as you study the Bible, you begin to realize it's also very unreasonable. God's love is unreasonable. And Paul, writing to the Romans, put it this way, "For when we were still without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us".
That's exactly what he did. He died for you and for me, all of us card-carryin' sinners and enemies of God. Yet, it was in that situation that love manifested itself, a holy, unreasonable act of a righteous man dying in the place of unrighteous men. God's love is uncaused and it's unreasonable. And it's unending. God's love is unending. The Bible says that God is love, and the Bible also says that God is eternal. So, if God is love and God is eternal, then God's love has to be eternal. He's the everlasting God, he's the Alpha and Omega, he's the beginning and the end. He is the one who is, and who was, and who is to come. He's the Almighty. We all divide time into past, present, and future, but God doesn't live in those categories. God's name is I Am, not I was or I will be, I Am. He inhabits eternity. He's the king eternal. Of him, the psalmist wrote, "Even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God".
God's love is unending. There's nothing you can do to keep him from continuing to love you. He's loved you from beginning, and he'll love you all the way to the end. And the Bible teaches that God's love is unlimited. Somebody has said that God's center is everywhere, and his circumference is nowhere. God fills the heavens and the earth with his presence. "Behold," says the Scripture, "heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you". And Paul acknowledges that God, "Is not far from each one of us, for in him we live and we move and we have our being". Where God is, love is. God's love is unlimited. He cannot be bound in any of the structures that we know. He is God who is everywhere, therefore his love is everywhere. No matter where you go, you can't get away from it. He is always going to be there in his love.
And his love is unchanging. In a world that moves and changes so fast that it's almost impossible to keep up with it, here is one of the characteristics of Almighty God that we need to remember. Malachi 3:6 says it this way, "For I am the Lord, and I do not change". Psalm 33:11 says, "The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations". Psalm 102 says, "But you are the same, and your years shall have no end". What a wonderful thought to know that because God is unchanging, his love is unchanging, his love is constant in its faithfulness, and continual in its expression. One of the problems that we have in our culture is that people say things like this, "Why are you leaving"? "Well, I just don't love her anymore". I often have a problem with that because love is not something we have emotionally, love is a command. God says, "Husbands, love your wives". "Well, I don't feel like loving her". Doesn't make any difference, love her anyway. That's what the Bible says. If you love her anyway, pretty soon you'll feel like loving her, right?
Did you know there's a good side and a better side to God's unchanging love? The good side is that God won't wake up in the morning and decide he's had enough of us. The better side is that even when we wake up in the morning and decide we've had enough of him, he will still love us. When the Bible tells us that God's love is unlimited, I think it means that God's love is something like the love of a mother, perhaps a mother like this mother in a story that I read told by Michael Brown. He said, "A friend told me about a boy who was the apple of his parents' eyes. Tragically, in his mid-teens, the boy's life went astray. He dropped out of school, he began associating with a bad crowd. One night, he staggered into his house at 3 a.m., completely drunk. His mother slipped out of bed and left her room. The father followed, assuming that his wife was in the kitchen, perhaps crying, as had been so often the case. Instead, he found her at her son's bedside, softly stroking his matted hair as he lay passed out drunk on the covers. 'What in the world are you doing, honey?' the father said. And the mother answered, 'He won't let me love him when he's awake, so I have to love him when he's asleep'".
And I'm here to tell you God loves us when we're awake, when we're asleep. No matter what condition we're in, he never stops loving us. His love is uncaused, it's unreasonable, it's unending, it's unlimited, it's unchanging. Let me tell you something else, it's uncomplicated. It's uncomplicated. Karl Barth was Switzerland's greatest 20th-century theologian. He accomplished some great things as a theologian. He wrote 13 volumes of church dogmatics, a theological work containing more than 6 million words. When Barth made his only trip to the United States in 1962, he was supposedly asked by a student to summarize the millions of words about the Bible and theology that he had written. While his audience awaited to be amazed by a profound statement from this theologian, he said, "Jesus loves me, this I know Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so Little ones to him belong They are weak but he is strong Yes, Jesus loves me Yes, Jesus loves me Yes, Jesus loves me" Do you know what the message of God's Word is? "Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so".
So God's love is uncomplicated. The question then becomes, who does God love? If God is love, who does he love? Well, the Bible tells us that he loves his own Son. Doesn't that make sense? On two occasions, the Bible tells us that God expressed his love for his own Son, at Jesus' baptism and at his transfiguration. From the heavens were these words, these words of God's love for his child, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased". The first thing we know when we study the love of God in the Bible is that God loves his Son. We also know, and this should be not a surprise to most of us here, that God dearly loves Israel. Did you know the Bible tells us that? And we're reminded when we were there how desperately these people need to know of the love of God, but also of the love of this nation.
The Bible says that God loved Israel so much that he used a metaphor to describe it. He said that as long as the sun and the moon and the stars shine in the heavens, as long as the heavens remain immeasurable, and the earth's foundations are undiscoverable, as long as that happens, God would continue to love Israel. God said, "Before I stop loving Israel, you got to pull the moon and the stars out of the sky". You got to destroy the heavens, you got to destroy the undiscoverable earth before God will stop loving Israel. There are many today who teach that God does not have a plan for Israel today. I do not want to argue with you about it except to ask you to carefully read the Scripture because the Bible tells us that God loves Israel, and he has a plan for them. And it is in our best interest as a nation to remember that those who bless Israel God will bless, and those who curse Israel God will curse.
And then let me tell you a third thing. We're coming down to the end of this, let me tell you the third thing, God loves those who believe in Christ. God has a special love for those who believe in his Son. In fact, in John 17:23, we read these words, "That the world may know that you, God, have loved them as you have loved me". Jesus said, "God, you love Christians the same way that you love me". In his letter to the Colossians, Paul said of Christ's followers that they were the elect of God, holy and loved". God loves his Son, God loves Israel, God loves all those who love him. But how many of you know the most important thing for us to remember is that God loves the world? "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son". He loves the world. He doesn't love the physical world, the earth and the sky, that's not what that means. He loves the world of humanity.
The Bible says in Romans 5:8 that God commends his love toward us, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. God loves his Son, God loves Israel, God loves those who believe in Christ, God loves the world, but most important of all, God loves you. He loves you. God does not love populations, he loves people. He does not love masses, he loves men. He loves us all with a mighty love that has no beginning and can have no end. Have you ever awakened and said, "He really does love me"?
Many of you know that, years ago, I went through a bout of cancer. And every 6 months, I have to go back to the Scripps Clinic and get a scan, and then I have to wait for a whole week for them to tell me if I'm okay. I always believe I'm all right, but you know how your mind can do things to you if you have a little ache you didn't have before. So, my doctor was late, I had to wait on him for a long time, and finally he comes marching in, he says, "Well, you're just great, Jeremiah, just great. I don't know what you're doing, but keep doing it, everything's fine". He went off and told me my blood pressure's 116 over 65, and that that's not possible for somebody who lives like I do. My wife, my wife says I'm a carrier. I think that's probably more like it, I give her high blood pressure. I don't have it, you know. But I always have one of those God moments on my way home from the hospital. I've developed a little routine, there's a little coffee place right outside the Scripps Clinic, and they have the best lemon cake I've ever eaten in my life. But I never eat lemon cake unless I get a good report.
So when I get a good report... I had two pieces yesterday. And I don't call Donna and say it's okay. I call Donna on the phone and say, "Honey, I'm eating lemon cake, baby". She said, "Bring me some," and I did. And when you realize how good is God to you, even in a simple thing like that, preserving your health, you just stop for a moment and you just are overwhelmed. He really loves me. God loves me, he really does. And he doesn't just have to love you during the good times. No, God loves us when he's correcting us. God loves us when he's disciplining us. God loves us as every father should love their own. But if you came here tonight and you wondered if you were in God's good graces, if God loves you, I can say with absolute assurance, no matter who you are, no matter where you've come from, no matter what you've done, God loves you. He always has, and He always will.